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Because of this answer I recently found out that the Interpretative Guidelines for EC261 tell us the following:

6. COMPENSATION, REIMBURSEMENT, RE-ROUTING AND CARE IN THE CASE OF MULTIMODAL JOURNEYS

Multimodal journeys involving more than one mode of transport under a single transport contract (e.g. a journey by rail and air sold as a single journey) are not covered as such under the Regulation, nor are they covered by any Union legislation on passenger rights in other modes of transport. If a passenger misses a flight because of a delayed train, he or she would only benefit from the rights to compensation and assistance granted by Regulation (EC) No 1371/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council (54) in relation to the rail journey, and then only if the passenger was delayed by more than 60 minutes at the destination (55). By the same token, other provisions would apply in the case of a flight missed following a delayed ship or coach journey in the context of a single contract of carriage (56). However, organisers of packages may be liable under Directive 90/314/EEC or Directive (EU) 2015/2302 also for the missed flights and the impact on the package as a whole if the multimodal journey forms part of a combination with other travel services, e.g. accommodation.

For this reason, when I have a train journey followed by a plane journey, I start my journey on a train that could still enable me to catch the flight even with a 2 to 3 hour delay.
My question is specific for when I have a plane journey followed by a train journey (usually the inbound segment of a rail&fly ticket). I understand that if I arrive at my final destination on a train that's delayed over 3 hours I'm not covered by EC261. However, in case the plane is delayed and I arrive at my final airport destination by over 3 hours and it falls under EC261 cover, would I be able to claim compensation?

In other words: am I falling outside the cover of EC261 when buying a multimodal ticket?

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My understanding is that you should consider the series of legs on each component as separate trips, each covered by their own regulations.

So if you buy a ticket A-B-C-D where A-B-C are flights and C-D are rail, then A-B-C is covered by EC261 while C-D is covered by the relevant rail regulations.

In the example given, if you get to C 3 hours late, you should receive compensation for that as if you had bought a ticket from just A to C.

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  • If I understand correctly the regulation itself leaves that open for interpretation. Did you write "my understanding" because they use unclear phrasing?
    – André
    Jan 28 at 22:34
  • I wrote “my understanding” because IANAL and I didn’t check all the details or related case law, if any. But the interpretative guidelines seem to be quite clear about the fact that multi-modal journeys are to be handled as a series of single-mode journeys, each covered by their respective passenger rights directives, if any, even if they were sold together (with the exception of packages with transport + accommodation). Is there anything that makes you think otherwise?
    – jcaron
    Jan 28 at 22:44

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